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Since 1987, King County taxpayers have been taking a big bite out of crime without taking a big bite out of their wallets.

The county's Regional Automated Fingerprint Identification System is one of those whiz-bang, high-tech crime-busting tools that has lived up to its promise as county voters have approved its funding every five years or so. . . .

Since the system has been in service, the rate of crimes solved within King County has increased by 66 percent. A big factor has been the ability to solve more crimes, especially property crimes, by comparing latent prints (fingerprints left at a crime scene) to a huge database of known offenders' prints. . . .

Before the automated prints check, some offenders wanted on warrants for serious crimes slipped through the jail booking process by lying about their identities.

Passage of this levy will bring something else important: a five-year window in which to find a permanent funding source for this fundamental crime-fighting weapon. For now, it's imperative that we keep this weapon in the hands of law enforcement.